In the first major survey to look at the green economy from the perspective of small business owners, 75% say sales of green products actually rose during the recession (2008-2011).
The study includes owners of "microbusinesses" – those with 5 or fewer employees – which represent 88% of US businesses.
Among businesses that saw sales growth in green products, the greener the company’s practices, the higher their sales, reports Green America, EcoVentures International and Association for Enterprise Opportunity, who collaborated on the survey. 79% "strongly agree" that offering green products and services gave their business a competitive advantage during that time.
Over 1,300 small business owners were surveyed on the environmental and social benefits attributes of their products and services as well as their adoption of green practices like lighting/ energy efficiency, waste and water management and use of renewable energy. Respondents were then segmented into three categories: Deep Green, Mid-Green and Light Green.
Deep Green businesses reported significantly stronger performance than their Light Green peers on nearly every dimension.
62% that offer green products or services say they do so because it’s a "competitive requirement" in their industry.
Although businesses note greater competition for green-oriented customers, their greenest products tend to be profitable, often more profitable, than their less environmentally beneficial offerings.
Another study found that Americans generally bought fewer green products during the recession, because most people spent less overall. But Deep Green purchasers – who choose green products for most of their purchases – increased during that time to 9% of the consumer market.
And a third study conducted during the recession found that "sustainability has stood the test of time." Even during difficult economic times 69% of American adults bought green products or services and 48% of them said it’s because they are better for the environment. 82% said they know which companies and brands have a strong history of sustainability and that’s who they buy from.
Read the study, The Big Green Opportunity for Small Green Business in the US: